Congressional number-crunchers were out with new figures today for how much the $700 billion Trouble Asset Relief Program really cost to prop up failing financial institutions and Detroit area automakers General Motors and Chrysler, and if projections hold, the government -- and the taxpayers -- could be on the hook for a lot less than earlier believed.
The Congressional Budget Office routinely puts put a report on just how much the government has invested through the 2008 legislation known as TARP, how much has been paid back and how much the nation is likely to have paid out in total once all's said and done.
Today's report said of the $431-billion disbursed to banks, financial companies, car companies and more -- as well as grants yet to be made to certain mortgage support programs -- the cost after all that can be recouped is should be about $32-billion total.
That's $2 billion less than the cost estimated in December and the reduction is largely attributable to growth in the market price for shares in insurance giant AIG and General Motors, which the federal government retains a 33 percent ownership stake in. GM's share price has risen by about 25 percent from just under $20 to just over $25 in the last three months.
The report also said it expects a lower-than-expected cost for mortgage programs, too.
In all, the Treasury invested about $80 billion in GM, Chrysler, their financial arms and auto suppliers. Of that total, about $37 billion remains outstanding. Once Treasury sells the rest of its shares, the total cost of the investments and loans is expected to be $19 billion, down $1 billion from CBO's earlier estimate.
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